Scotland's chief constable is considering ending the practice of non-statutory stop-and-search by police officers, the First Minister has announced.

Nicola Sturgeon told Holyrood that Sir Stephen House has indicated he wants to "move to a situation" where such searches are no longer carried out.

Ms Sturgeon made the announcement at First Minister's Questions as she was quizzed on the issue by Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.

It came after it emerged this week that consensual searches on children under the age of 12 are still taking place, despite Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson telling a Holyrood committee in June that the practice is "indefensible" and would be scrapped.

Ms Davidson said: "This week we found out that the police in Scotland had stopped and searched hundreds of children under the age of 12.

"For our youngest children, 159 were stopped in Scotland aged nine and under. In London, with millions more people and higher crime, that number was just 19.

"Primary school children as young as five being approached by uniformed officers asking to search them, and them not knowing if they are allowed to say no."

She added: "How can a senior ranking officer come to Holyrood and tell Parliament that officers are regularly doing something that even the police consider indefensible and then walk out the front door and carry on regardless."

The First Minister said the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) had asked for an explanation from Police Scotland as to why children were being searched, and the matter would be discussed in public at its next board meeting.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Clearly this is an issue that many people will have concerns around. When the police search children it is generally to ensure that they are safe and we understand that a proportion of these searches are because drugs or weapons may have been concealed by others on very young children."

She added: "I have spoken to the chief constable about stop-and-search and I can advise Parliament that following a six-month pilot in Fife, he is now considering whether the practice of non-statutory or consensual stop-and-search should be ended and I welcome this."

Ms Sturgeon said the move would see non-statutory stop-and-search ended for everyone, and she has asked the chief constable to consult with both the SPA and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland, and provide an update to the Justice Secretary by the end of March.